Sunday, 30 August 2009

Hobby versus Activity

What defines whether an activity is a hobby or just "something you do"? I was musing on that this morning, when I was writing up my latest sock on Ravelry. Knitting is my hobby, but so is crochet, needlepoint, cross-stitch, gardening, cooking, singing, and most recently candle-making and jam-making. Or are they? What makes a hobby a hobby? Where is the dividing line?

Is it when you cross the line from focussing on the outcome to enjoying the process? I love to cook. I enjoy the process as well as (usually) the product that results. Sometimes, though, cooking is just a chore, particularly after work: I'm hungry, I'm tired, and I want to eat something now. At other times, I potter in the kitchen, chopping and stirring, experimenting with flavours. Then I'm enjoying the process as well as the product. It amuses me, the men who list "cooking" as a hobby - after a hard day at work, their wives are probably standing in a dirty kitchen contemplating the washing up AND trying to figure out what for dinner in as rapid a fashion as possible. Do they view cooking as hobby? In those circumstances, probably not.

I think, earlier this year, gardening crossed the line from something I had to do (to tame the wilderness around here), through something I wanted to do (I've always wanted a vegetable garden), to something where I enjoy the process for the process's stake. Surely that is what makes it a hobby?

There are some hobbies that I haven't done in years. I haven't deliberately ignored them, more "bad light stopped play" and circumstances intervened. If the tidiness gremlins could tell me where I can find the needlepoint of Simpson's Gap, I'd appreciate it. I have the correct green for the gum tree now.

My most recent additions to the hobby repertoire are jam making and candle making. (My jam adventures will get their own post shortly.) I started making candles after trying fruitlessly to find citronella candles to burn in the kitchen to deter flies coming in while I cooked. I've made 3 citronella candles so far. I'd make more and different colours, etc, but I've had to rely on microwave soy wax - I've been searching charity shops for the last year for a double-boiler without success. Double-boilers virtually do not exist in this country, whether brand new or second hand. Yes, I started candle-making out of necessity but I enjoy the process as well as the product. I think that's another score for Hobby!

- Pam

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